We are all well aware that the greatest threat to internal security that the country faces is the one associated with the risks of fire caused by climate change,” said Prime Minister António Costa on the first day of formation of 600 new GNR military personnel, in the training centre of Portalegre.

“This new course, which we are launching 26th February 2018, involves a reinforcement of 600 personnel for the GNR with 500 more guard soldiers  joining the Intervention, Protection and Relief Group (GIPPS) and another 100 guard soldiers  joining the Protection of Nature and Environment Service, SEPNA “he said.

The GIPS courses will be held in March and April, and the SEPNA courses will be completed before the start of the critical period of forest fires.

Upon completion this will allow GIPS to expand their operations from 11 districts to all districts on the mainland.

The reinforcement of fire prevention and fire-fighting is also done by the creation of new teams of permanent firefighting personnel in the voluntary fire brigades, so that, within volunteering, there is a nucleus of professionals trained.

There will also be 500 new forest sappers, who throughout the winter and fall will clean up the forest and then proceed during the summer carrying out surveillance, as well as first intervention,” he added.

António Costa announced that he will open a competition for 200 new forest rangers during April, and that there is a reinforcement of commitment by the Armed Forces in situations of great calamity.

António Costa also said that the role of the GNR in supervising the cleaning of forests is not to tax the owners, but to ensure that the cleaning obligations of the forests are fulfilled.

“An untreated forest is a risk to the lives of all, and therefore what is at stake here is not to collect fines, not to prosecute people, but is to ensure that everyone fulfills their obligations,” he said, adding that “what is at stake is if we all contribute to the safety of all”.